By David Hunter
Lagoa – Alto de Foia 189.3km
After a day for the sprinters, it’s time for the GC riders to have some fun.
The stage is dominated by the final two climbs. If you watched my video preview, you would have heard Tiesj Benoot say that the penultimate climb is the hardest. Alto da Pomba is nearly 4km at 8% and really softens the legs of the riders. That is followed by Alto da Foia.
The climb is 9km at 6% and fairly consistent throughout. It was reintroduced into the race last year and the stage was won by Luis Leon Sanchez. It certainly is a finish that suits a fast finishing puncheur.
LL Sanchez – the Spaniard will be full of confidence after winning here last year. He arrives as the team leader of Astana and Foia suits him well. The constant 5.5% of the final 3km allows him to settle into a nice pace and then attack inside the final 500m. Remember that he does posses a fast finish.
Primoz Roglic – I still have no idea what happened to him in the Valenciana TTT. He did recover from that by performing well on stages 2 and 4, picking up 3rd and 5th. He was 3rd here in 2016 and will hope to pick up some crucial bonus seconds.
Tony Gallopin – on paper, this is a climbs that suits the Frenchman, but he only finished 13th here last year. That was a poor result and I would expect more from him this year, especially after his good start to the season.
Tiesj Benoot – could it be his first pro win? I really hope so. The sensational Belgian has been close on a number of occasions and did well here last year, finishing 9th. He will benefit from less climbing stars in this edition and if the pace is steady on the climb, he has the finish needed to win the stage.
Dan Martin – starts the stage as the favourite. The Irishman started his season in Valenciana, picking up 5th overall. Looking at his rivals, he is the best GC rider here, although the TT makes it very hard for him to win the overall. Quick-Step always know how to deliver wins and they will be confident in their climbing star.
Edvald Boasson Hagen – right on his limit! We’ve seen him do well on climbs like this before, I remember him finishing 2nd in the Tour of Britain Queen stage in 2015. The penultimate climb is the important point for the Norwegian. If he survives that one, he’ll be in with a shout of the stage.
Jose Goncalves – Katusha surprised many when they signed the Portuguese rider from Caja-Rural. He really is a talented bike rider, capable of so much. Riding on home soil, he’ll be very keen to impress his new bosses. He can be a bit hot and cold, so it really depends on his current form, motivation will not be a problem.
Michal Kwiatkowski – I’m fed up with him not performing at the level he is capable of. His move to Sky wasn’t a success, but this is a new season and he can still turn things around. On his day, he is one of the most talented riders in the world.
Amaro Antunes – was the “surprise” of Valenciana, taking 3rd on the Queen stage. It was not a surprise to knowledgable cycling fans, who are well aware of his talents. Now riding for the Porto team, it’s great to see him competing against the very best. There is no reason why he cannot finish on the podium.
One rider stands out as being the best climber and he has a fast finish. I’ll go with Quick-Step and Dan Martin. The stage looks perfect for him.
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